To the manufacturer!

You’ll recall that my VW dealer insists I live in extreme weather, and therefore have to change my oil twice as often as the standard maintenance schedule requires. He cited an ambiguously worded passage from the owner’s manual to prove it.

Unconvinced, and fully aware that this claim translates to profits for the dealer, I decided to contact Volkswagen directly. Unfortunately, I don’t have my initial message. Basically, I cited the passage in the manual referenced by the dealer. I asked if Ottawa is indeed in such extreme weather conditions that I need to change my oil twice as often, even during the summer.

VW was quick to respond. The important part of the response was:

I recommend you contact the service manager at your local authorized Volkswagen dealership. He/she can advise you on any sever [sic] changes in weather and road conditions for your area that can call for a change in the maintenance schedule. According to our records, our nearest dealership to you is Hunt Club Volkswagen in Ottawa. Michael Lavigne will be able to help you with any service or maintenance concerns you may have so you can get the most from your driving experience.

I smiled. My correspondence with the dealership was with Mr. Lavigne. I saw that I wasn’t going to be able to get the info I wanted without fessing up.

It’s funny you should mention this because the reason I asked is my concern *about* Hunt Club Volkwagen. The service department there says an oil change is *required* every 8000 km, year round. I wrote to Mr. Lavigne directly. He cited the section of the manual I mentioned and said that the weather here is severe. Simple as that. It’s a hard claim to accept at face value, so I contacted you.

Will I lose warranty protection if I don’t *double* the money I spend on oil changes, even in the summer months? Mr. Lavigne implies that I will and it doesn’t make me feel good about the car or the service.

Now I was really curious as to what they’d say. I didn’t have to wait long:

Volkswagen relies on the recommendations and diagnoses made by the technicians at our authorized dealerships, as they have hands-on knowledge of our vehicles and can provide the most comprehensive information. Recommendations made regarding scheduled maintenance are given so you can get the best performance from your car. Deviating from the recommended maintenance schedule may have an impact on warranties provided by Volkswagen during your ownership.

If you would like, I can contact Michael on your behalf to clarify any additional questions you may have. I can also provide contact information to other authorized Volkswagen dealers in your area if you would like to receive a diagnosis and service recommendations from another source. I want you to be completely satisfied every time you get behind the steering wheel of your Jetta.

So there you go. I can indeed risk my warranty coverage if I deviate from the service the dealer tells me is required. But on the other hand, I can go to another dealer. If I get a different answer, then it’s okay as long as I stay with them. How does this make any sense? It’s VW who provides the warranty so they ought to set the conditions. I understand their covering their own asses, but not when it costs me time, trouble, and money.

One thing is for sure. As soon as the warranty expires, I’ll never take the car to the dealer again.

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One Comment

  1. bradley
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 16:48 | Permalink

    Does your warranty stipulate that you must have oil changes done at the dealership? I’ve never been denied a warranty claim (including an engine knock on a Dodge Neon) due to not doing scheduled maintenance at the dealer … I’ve been doing my own oil changes for 8 years. Simply saying, do your oil changes every 16k and if they question it, say you did the 8k change yourself 😛

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